Following a rampage that damaged a Thai-owned casino and military truck and left two police officers injured, Battambang Provincial Court on Thursday charged 29 men with damage to property and causing injury to police, a prosecutor said.
The men were part of a group of more than 60 Cambodians, angered by the beating of two Cambodians and the recent rumors that Thai police killed a Cambodian, said deputy provincial prosecutor Koy Kannya. Cambodian authorities now deny that any such incident occurred. The men are being held in pretrial detention, he said.
Sar Thet, the provincial police chief, said the men attempted Tuesday to force their way into Thailand through the Doung International Checkpoint in Kamrieng’s Boeng Kaing commune, he said.
After police repelled the men, they allegedly attacked a casino reportedly owned by a Thai businessman, destroying the windows in the front and creating a small fire, Mr Sar Thet said.
“It is not politically motivated between the two countries, but this case occurred [a day after] their drinking party to welcome the Cambodian-Thai New Year. They turned violent, damaging a military truck and beating our policemen and damaging a casino.”
Villagers in Kamrieng district continue to express anger over the beating across the border but the rumor about Thai military killing a Cambodian is untrue, said military police chief Por Vannak, adding that military police have met with Thai police and conducted an investigation.
“Please don’t believe this rumor. It is not true,” he said, adding the jailed men are calming down after the fight.
Earlier Monday during a New Year celebration on Thai soil near Kamrieng district, several Thais beat two Cambodian men using wooden sticks and wine bottles, Kamrieng district police chief Chhem Kim Hong said Wednesday.
That fight began after Thai youths threw traditional powder at some Cambodian women and tried to kiss them, raising objections from the women’s companions, he said. But rumors of a killing also sprouted, bringing tensions to a boiling point in Kamrieng district, said Por Vannak.